Every product or service comes with a story. Someone tells you the story; you tell yourself the story. The story is part of the justification, even to ourselves, of the price.
The most beautiful bag in the world
Years ago, a client sent me a thank you gift. The most beautiful bag I’ve ever owned. It cost more than my monthly mortgage payments. And probably more than all the other bags I had ever owned added together.
But the underlying materials are still the same; leather stitched together with some metal work. Yet this is butter soft leather worked by artisans in Italy, in a time-honoured fashion. It’s not a flashy brand; it’s a brand that thrives on its craftsmanship and insider knowledge.
You know the adverts. You know the strapline. It’s a story, and it makes people believe that it’s better.
A gin for all seasons
I may have mentioned more than once that Lilliput Dorset Gin is my house gin. But, sorry guys, it’s not my only gin. I’ve dabbled with the gins from Lidl, who tell a story of the savvy choice. Many would say their story runs on the back of stories of other brands who have worked hard, spent lots of money, taken a lot of risks, to create those stories.
All of which is true. Which is why I value my house gin more than anything Lidl produce. It’s why I gladly pay over 2.5 times more for the Lilliput.
Where does the value of the extra spend come from?
In a blind tasting, maybe you can pick the more expensive gin. Sometimes experts do, sometimes they don’t.
The reason we pay more is in the story. In this case, I love the story of this being inspired by the coast of Dorset, a place I love. I love stories of small businesses doing something different, inspired by love and passion, however cliched that could be. Cliches are really only cliches when they’re not authentic.
I love watching the story evolve, feeling part of the journey. I’m ready and waiting for the release of the Cask Edition, ready to buy more gin I don’t really need.
That story makes it worth the cost, to me.
Without the story, I may as well just buy the Lidl version.
Are you the cheapest product in your industry?
If you are, then that’s your strategy, and everything has to be geared up around that. You need really efficient systems at every stage to strip every cost out, so you’re maximising the profit off a very low price.
Basic economics, you don’t need me to tell you that.
If your business model is any more than just price, you have to have a story to justify that price. Or be the only one doing the thing you do, in which case you set the price. Just being the best isn’t unique, so don’t try and convince yourself that is enough.
What did you invest in your story?
So, if you’re not the cheapest, and you’re not the only one, then how much did you spend on developing your story? Whether you spent your time, or your money, or both, did you spend enough to craft a compelling story to make the price worthwhile?
Can your customers tell your story?
And does everything you do tell the story, the same story?
If you really want to maximise the value of your story, then you have to put some form of effort into it. And the effort should generate a return. Don’t think of it as a cost, think of it as an investment. An investment that drives bottom-line value.
Why storytelling for businesses is about money, not fairy tales
My business is to write stories for businesses that convert to something tangible, and valuable to them. I don’t write in order to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
I weave words to generate action, not magic spells. Although getting people to want to do something is some form of magic, which is why it’s worth time and/or money spent on getting it right. If your story and words are not compelling people to do something, then they need something spent on them.
I also don’t just write airy fairy stories because I fancy them. I work with businesses to delve into their analytics, their research, their feedback. What are your customers telling you already? What can you see that works for them? Do more of that. What has no effect? Stop doing it.
I create legends
I came into freelance writing from a marketing background. I had a previous career all focused on creating value, that balance between sales and the intrinsic value of a brand. I draw on that every day.
I converted an investment of five figures into an ongoing story that has generated millions of pounds globally for that business and continues to do so. All because there’s a great product, with a fantastic story, at the heart of it.
Without the story, that product would have been discontinued over ten years ago. That fight for £10,000 is long forgotten by 99.9% of people in that business. But every time I see their business results, I can’t help but think about what that business would look like today without that story, which is now a legend.
Why I’m not on Fiverr
Of course, you can hire a writer on Fiverr. There are some great people I’m sure on there. They start at £3.69.
I don’t want to work with brands who just want to pick someone on price. I want to work with people who value their own stories more than that. I want to work with people who know they’ve got something good; they just haven’t found the way to get the words working for them yet.
I want to work with brands who know they can drive more value for their business through their story. You don’t have to be looking to spend five figures, but you do have to be clear on the outcome you want. As in so many things, you do get what you pay for. All writers, whether £3.69 worth or not, put words on the page or screen. The value to your business is what happens after that point.
If you want words that work, then make sure any freelance writer you work with does the work, the graft, the understanding. If you’re the writer, make sure you don’t get caught up in your own story. Have someone close and honest (possibly blunt) review it for you. If you hire a freelance writer, be sure they can deliver value for your money and time. Make sure their values are as high as yours, and they’re in it to generate business growth, not just words on the page.
Want to release the value of your story? Let’s talk. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what you want your story to deliver.
Business stories need to be about the bottom line, not just the storyline. So, what’s your story?